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L&I finalizes decrease in workers’-comp rates for 2020

For the third year in a row, the price of workers’ compensation insurance is dropping in Washington. The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) announced a 0.8% decrease in the average amount employers will pay for the coverage in 2020. For the many construction risk classifications, the proposed rates range from a 17% decrease for Asphalt Paving or Surfacing, NOC, to a 10% increase for Dam Construction.   L&I cut rates by 5% in 2019 and 2.5% in 2018.

Click here to view the 2020 rates by classification.  The new rates go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

“Our workers’ compensation system is in good shape. Every year we help tens of thousands of people recover from on-the-job injuries and go back to work,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “Our programs to help injured workers are making a real difference, and workplace injury rates in Washington are declining. That’s great for workers and their families and is helping us keep costs down.”

AGC welcomes the lower rates and applauds the successes in helping injured workers heal and return to work that they reflect.

However, AGC also believes the decrease could have been more had there not been raids on the workers’ comp accounts, known as 608 and 609 in the state budget.

“The department continues to fund non-workers’ compensation programs using workers’ compensation funds,” said AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood. “These are funds are paid for predominately by employers to be held for the benefit of future injured workers.  Diverting their use to non-workers’ compensation purposes simply acts as an undeclared tax on employers.”

Some non-workers’ compensation programs at L&I have been funded out of 608/609 premiums beginning with the 2003 and subsequent operating budgets, while the funding was changed from the General Fund to 608/609 for the staffing and administration of some programs such as the Department’s regulation of apprenticeship and employment law.

AGC notes that there have been similar raids or attempted raids occurring in other states in recent years – Montana, New York, Oregon – and each time they result in protracted legal and legislative disputes between premium payers and the state.

“We do not want to see this trend extend to Washington,” VanderWood said. “These proposed programs, while perhaps meritorious, have nothing to do with the risk management, adjudication, and payment of workers’ compensation benefits, which is and should be the only proper purpose of the Accident and Medical Aid Funds. Accordingly, they should not be paid for with them.  We call upon the department to stop the diversion of workers compensation trust funds.”

For more information, contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood, 360.352.5000.

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